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Police under fire over rights abuses

Officers are major offenders, watchdog says

Police under fire over rights abuses
Police face protesters outside the presidential palace

Almost one third of alleged human rights abuses reported so far this year were committed by the police, the head of the country’s top rights watchdog said yesterday.

Out of 5,422 abuses reported, 1,635 cases were committed by the police, said Otto Nur Abdullah, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

Police violations include torture, shootings, wrongful arrests and detentions, as well as victimization and other uses of violence, he told reporters in Jakarta.

“These figures show that often talked about promises by police to uphold human rights have not been met,” he said.

Abdullah said torture was an ingrained practice and was difficult to crack down on because there are no laws regulating it.

he called on the government, with the help of Komnas HAM, to act immediately and outlaw the practice in accordance with the UN Anti-Torture Convention.

Indonesia ratified the convention in 1998, but has done little to comply with it, rights groups say.

Chairman of the Indonesia Police Watch, Neta S. Pane, said rights abuses were often committed by low ranking officers.

“Many violations occur during mass demonstrations,” he said.

National Police spokesman, Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar, refuted the commission’s claims.

“If these reports are true, perpetrators can be jailed or fired,” he said.

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